KO: How long have you been writing and what drew you to self-publishing?
CC: I think I’ve been writing since I was twelve, turning in extra stories to my teachers in the beginning, then taking creative writing classes at the local college when I was still in high school. I knew it was what I wanted to do by sixteen. But I was in my late twenties before I became really serious about it. I read somewhere you need to be in your thirties to have enough life experience to write a novel. I don’t think that’s true for everyone, but I was annoyed to find it held some truth for me.
I had written two books and was getting better and better rejection letters when a friend of mine in Ireland, who worked at a small, mostly non-fiction, publishing company, suggested I look into self-publishing. Without her to help me navigate the process I don’t know if I would have done it. But I’m very grateful to her for pointing me in this direction.
KO: What is the most rewarding thing about self-pub and what do you find the hardest?
CC: I love the control that self-publishing gives me. It’s all on my timeline and when things are going well I get to reap the benefits. However, learning to navigate my way through self-promotion has been a struggle that I feel I’ve only recently started to get the hang of. It was when I acknowledged that being a self-published author is a business, and that I had to put as much effort into the business end of it as the writing, that I finally started to get somewhere.
KO: How many books have you written an how long does it usually take you to complete a book?
CC: I have four self-published books: Something Found, Snow Soldiers, After Home, and Holding Back Daylight. I’ll admit Something Found took a few years. I was still trying to find my voice while writing it and I had to start over more than once. The other three were written in much less actual time. However, I had my two boys during those years and finding that time wasn’t easy. Now that they are both in school I would like to get to the stage of producing one to two books a year.
KO: What kind of writer are you? Do you have a workshop group or beta readers or are you more solitary?
CC: These days I’m more of a solitary writer. I have one or two friends that are probably sick of reading my rewrites, but they are people I can trust to tell me if I’m headed down the wrong path. However, I would love to be part of a writer’s group again. I was part of one when I was eighteen and I loved the input and the emotional charge of being around people with the same passion.
KO: Who are your favorite authors and influences?
CC: I’d like to expand my reading horizons more, but two authors I always come back to are Elizabeth Berg and Pat Conroy. I love stories about the relationships between people, especially friends and family. Which is why I’ve also enjoyed discovering Katie O’Rourke’s books.
KO: Tell me a bit about your most recent book.
CC: Holding Back Daylight is my most recent book. It takes place in Chicago, a city I love, but was waiting for the right time to write about. Claire, the protagonist, has lost both her parents and an uncle she was very close to, and in the process inherited his bar. It’s about someone who cares deeply about people, but doesn’t want to get hurt again so has taken a step back from relationships. However, when a friendship begins to form with her new neighbor, cracks start to appear in the walls she worked so hard to build.